Belfast Telegraph

Agonising search for Belfast teacher Catherine Johnson enters third day

By Staff Reporter

The family and friends of a missing east Belfast woman face another agonising day waiting for news of the mother-of-one's whereabouts.

Catherine Johnson (39), a science teacher at Hazelwood Integrated College in north Belfast, disappeared from her home on Tuesday.

Her white Seat Leon car was discovered at Ballintoy Harbour, sparking a major air and sea search on the north coast involving police and Coastguard personnel.

But as darkness fell last night it was clear that the second day of the search for the missing woman had proved fruitless.

The operation is concentrated around the Dunseverick Castle and Carrick-a-Rede areas.

Yesterday police moved to scotch rumours circulating in north Antrim that the missing woman had been found.

"This is not the case at this time. The missing person appeal still stands and the search is ongoing," the PSNI said.

Later, Inspector David Burns said: "Extensive searches of Ballintoy Harbour and the surrounding area were carried out on Thursday by police officers, the police helicopter, Community Rescue Service and the Coastguard. These searches will resume again this morning."

Asking for help from the public, Inspector Burns added: "I would appeal to anyone who was in the Ballintoy Harbour area anytime between Tuesday, December 13 and Wednesday, December 14, and who may have seen Catherine, or taken any photographs in this area, to contact police on the non-emergency number 101."

Ms Johnston, who is head of Year 10 at Hazelwood, has been described by principal Kathleen O'Hare as "a shining star".

Yesterday pupils prayed for the safe return of their teacher, and the school's Facebook page prominently displayed a poster from counselling service Lifeline, offering help to anyone in distress or despair. Wellwishers posted many heartfelt messages of concern on social media.

There were more than 80 messages posted on the Belfast Telegraph's Facebook page alone.

Michelle Munn Radcliffe said: "She probably doesn't know how precious she is to so many people. I really hope they find her safe and well."

A former Hazelwood pupil added: "Praying Catherine is found quickly. Remember her fondly from school."

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